University of Pittsburgh, Spring Term 1998
Philosophy 0300: Introduction to Ethics
Monday/Wednesday writing recitations
Ben Eggleston, recitation instructor
Write an essay of about 4 pages on the following topic. Your essay should make ample use of the relevant text, not only representing the author’s views accurately, but also citing and interpreting specific passages where appropriate. It should also go into as much depth and detail as an essay of this length can. Finally, your essay should conform to the instructions provided in “Guidelines for Writing a Philosophy Paper.” Your paper will be due at the beginning of your recitation section on Wednesday, April 1.
Two competing tests of the moral permissibility of conduct are Kant’s categorical imperative and the golden rule, understood as “Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself.” Argue for one of these as more sensible than the other by considering the following situation and answering the questions that follow.
Suppose you are visiting a dying relative in the hospital and you want to shield her, in her last days, from the knowledge that a longtime friend of hers, whom she thinks of as an honest businessman, has been convicted of embezzlement. Suppose that she asks you how this friend is doing and that the only way to shield her from this painful information is to lie to her; and suppose also that if you do lie about this, then she she won’t find out about it.